Retailers ride strong online traffic heading into Cyber Monday

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black Friday brought in 151M, most online: NRF survey.

As retailers seamlessly transitioned from Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday deals as early as Saturday, they were riding the tailwind of a shopping weekend that found more than 103 million people say they had or planned to shop online Thursday through Sunday, according to the National Retail Federation’s consumer sentiment survey of 4,281 people out Sunday. Online shoppers outnumbered their brick-and-mortar counterparts during retailers’ pivotal Black Friday weekend, underscoring the challenges facing American malls this holiday season. The closely watched survey said that about 151 million people shopped either in stores and/or online over the long weekend in the United States, when many consumers look to take advantage of promotions. NRF changed its survey methodology this year to account for shifts in online and mobile shopper behavior and most of the results are not comparable to previous years. But its broad conclusions added to other research showing that in-store shopping was about the same as a year ago and that online shopping had jumped, putting total sales ahead of last year.

The NRF’s sentiment survey, which are not based on actual retailer’s results, said the number of people shopping exceeded their mid-November survey, when the organization estimated 136 million would shop over Thanksgiving weekend. That used to mean queuing up in the bracing cold late Thursday night after Thanksgiving into early Friday morning and — in some cases — literally fighting for the best offers. The growth of e-commerce — including people using their smartphones to buy gifts — helped boost the total number of U.S. shoppers to more than 151 million over the weekend. Other factors, including an earlier rollout of holiday promotions, also are changing consumers’ behavior, NRF President Matthew Shay said in a statement. He said retail executives he had spoken to were generally pleased with how the weekend went. “Consumers are in a good place to get us to a very good holiday season,” Shay said on a conference call. “I think we are in a very good place based on the results of the last few days to be right in that range.” Discount sellers such as TJ Maxx and Ross Stores Inc , as well as J C Penney Co Inc and Toys R Us Inc performed well, said analyst Burt Flickinger, whose Strategic Resource Group surveyed shoppers all weekend.

Evidence is mounting that consumers are gravitating toward mobile to avoid what retail tracking firm ShopperTrak noted was a “social stigma” associated with Black Friday. And despite earlier start times to sales, Black Friday remains the most popular day to shop, as more than 74 million people hit stores the day after Thanksgiving, compared with 34.6 million who shopped in stores on Thanksgiving, NRF says. Meanwhile, a growing number of retailers are offering deals in advance of Thanksgiving, and shoppers are taking advantage of those—thus depriving the two day shopping extravaganza of some of its importance.

On Saturday, ShopperTrak’s preliminary figures estimated combined retail sales of $12.1 billion over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a projected decrease from the comparable year-ago period. According to one estimate, the two days garnered $12.1 billion in sales, says ShopperTrak, which tracks shopper visits at more than 1,200 retailers, malls and entertainment venues. Separately, data from analytics firm RetailNext showed overall sales for both days fell 1.5 percent as customer traffic flattened, pushing down average spending per shopper by 1.4 percent. Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow noted that the question on spending in the new survey offered suggestions on what types of products it wanted feedback on like home decor and apparel, reducing the possibility that shoppers would include spending on food in their answers. Shay said he thought retailers had been able to attract a higher number of shoppers than initially forecast over the Thanksgiving weekend because of promotions and better targeting of consumers through the “small screen” of their mobile phones.

Separate research released on Sunday by analytics firm comScore showed that spending through desktop computers rose 9 percent to US$1.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day and increased 10 percent on Black Friday to US$1.66 billion. As more shopping shifts to the Web, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and other traditional retailers are doing their best to ward off the e-commerce king: Amazon.com Inc.

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